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Clarkson suffers 5th straight home loss

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POTSDAM — Clarkson lost its fifth straight home game Saturday night but found a few positives to build on as it prepares to host rival St. Lawrence University at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Yale edged the Golden Knights 3-1 before 2,297 fans at Cheel Arena, avenging a 1-0 loss at home to Clarkson on Nov. 9, as well as a 5-4 overtime loss in Cheel Arena last Jan. 15.

But Clarkson (4-12-5 overall, 3-5-1 ECAC Hockey) showed more spark on offense than it had since playing SLU in a pair of games early in December, even if the Golden Knights managed only one shot past Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm.

“We’re still trying to forge our identity,” Clarkson coach Casey Jones said. “We lost a little bit with our confidence recently. I thought we had better cycle play and we sustained pressure in their zone better. We saw some things tonight that we hadn’t seen in a while, so that was a positive.”

Yale (9-4-3, 5-3-1), with its skilled offense, also helped Clarkson prepare for a similar challenge against the Saints, even though SLU scored only two goals in two games against the Golden Knights last month.

“Yale has some good forwards so we had to pay attention on defense, and St. Lawrence has some high-skill guys and a good power play so our situation right now is we just try to focus on the process ourselves and make sure we bring that consistency,” Jones said.

After being shut out by Clarkson goalie Greg Lewis back in November, Yale pressured the Golden Knights early, taking 16 shots in the first period, but did not score until 6 minutes, 24 seconds of the second period on a power-play goal from Jesse Root.

“They tried to set a physical tone in the first period and I thought we handled it well and we were relentless,” said Yale’s Kenny Agostino, who assisted on Root’s goal and scored a second Bulldog goal at 11:47 of the second period. “We got some greasy goals. This is a tough place to play. (The first goal) was huge. To get a first goal in any building is huge, but especially when we are trying to line up a (weekend) sweep.”

Yale beat SLU 5-3 on Friday night and the win over Clarkson gave the Bulldogs their first weekend sweep in the north country since the 2003-04 season.

“I don’t remember it ever happening,” Bulldogs coach Keith Allain said. “Our guys are pretty excited about it. It’s always been a hard place to come for two games. We needed them and we got them. I thought we played well on both sides of the puck. I thought we generated a lot more scoring opportunities tonight than we did (at home).”

Saturday’s game was physical. Clarkson defenseman Alex Boak put a hit on Josh Balch in the first period, and there were several post-whistle, pushing-and-shoving incidents.

“We always want to play a physical game,” Boak said. “All week we worked hard on winning those physical battles. For me, I just go out there every game and try to be a physical presence out there and move pucks.”

With three minutes remaining in the game Jones pulled Lewis for an extra attacker and the move worked as Joe Zarbo scored a goal at 17:23 of the third period. Clarkson also drew a penalty before the goal and had a power-play for 1:22 before Golden Knights’ forward Allan McPherson was called for interference at 18:45.

“I thought we played pretty hard for the 60 minutes,” Clarkson captain Ben Sexton said. “We really started to get it going in the third, but we need that effort every night if we’re going to be successful. At the end of the day penalties took away from the flow of the game and what we needed to do. We talked this morning about our offensive identity and I thought we did a good job of having three guys create a cycle down low, and I thought we played better offensively tonight than we did last night.”

Clarkson was unable to push a tying goal past Malcolm, and Yale sealed the win with an empty-net goal from Clinton Bourbonais with 30 seconds remaining.

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